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Obesity plays spoilsport in potency

Obesity plays spoilsport in penile potency, thanks to low levels of hormones like testosterone.

health and fitness Updated: Jan 09, 2009 18:34 IST

Obesity plays spoilsport in penile potency, thanks to low levels of hormones like testosterone.

The link between obesity and erectile dysfunction (ED) dates from the Byzantine era, when a large belly was believed to reduce a man's ability to have sex.

This is particularly relevant today, as the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled in the last 25 years.

Excess abdominal fat, cardiovascular disease, high blood lipids and type-2 diabetes characterise a condition known as metabolic syndrome, which has recently been associated with ED.

Alvarado Hospital researchers studied 2,435 males who sought treatment for ED between 2001 and 2007 to come to this conclusion.

"This is a landmark study that shows that sexual health is clearly linked to overall health, and that improving one's general health provides a man the opportunity to improve his erectile function," said Irwin Goldstein, director of Alvarado Hospital's Sexual Medicine department.

The results, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, showed that obesity was significantly associated with a higher physical contribution to ED, while there was no difference seen with relational or psychological determinants, said a release of Alvarado Hospital.

The greater the level of obesity, the lesser the levels of testosterone decreased (two out of three morbidly obese patients had low testosterone).

Obese patients were also more likely to have abnormalities in penile blood flow. Psychological disturbances related to obesity did not seem to play a major role in developing obesity-related ED.